March 21, 2007

Anyone who frequents this space is probably well aware I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, nor have I ever been. I’ve never bought into the mainstream dino-media’s Hillary love-fest, never thought she was anything but a cold, calculating, ambitious and paranoid socialist wannabe living off of her cheating husband’s not-so-insignificant political chops by cloaking herself in his so-called ‘legacy’.

I also never bought into the idea that she was the Democrats’ de facto nominee for President in 2008, or even, if so, that she would ever have much of a chance in a head-to-head presidential contest, for the following reasons:

1) Unlikeability. Simply put, her approval/disapproval ratings make her virtually unelectable. Dick Morris has argued that Hillary can overcome her historically dismal ratings simply because she’ll draw a new voting block (single and married women who typically don’t vote) to compensate, but I would argue that this would be easily offset by the significant number of people out there who would absolutely be chomping at the bit to vote against such an unlikeable, polarizing figure.

2) Clinton/Bush fatigue. The nation is tired of having Bushes and Clintons in the White House – has it been nearly twenty years already? – and all the hypercharged negativity and divisiveness of the past decade. Hence, the 2008 electorate will be yearning for a “fresh face”, someone who is a “uniter”, not a “divider”, and someone who doesn’t stand for “politics as usual”.

While Morris still asserts that Hillary can overcome these problems with an influx of new and energized voters, he relays exactly the kind of struggle for acceptance she is facing:

…While some disagree with her on specific issues, most object to her because they find her dishonest, associated with scandals and with Bill Clinton, power hungry. A lot simply don’t like her. Those kind of negatives are very difficult to overcome.

On the positive side, many see her as highly experienced, knowledgeable, intelligent, and right on the issues. And her gender is important. Many cite the fact that she would be the first woman president as a big advantage. But, according to the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll at the end of February, 48 percent of the voters have a negative opinion of her while 49 percent have a positive one. And the number of people who strongly dislike her has risen from 25 percent to 35 percent.

That, my friends, is territory commonly reserved for the unelectable.

A sympathetic press and a legion of campaign flacks can only hide someone’s unlikeability, churlishness, and political shortcomings for only so long. Sooner or later, you have to go beyond sound bites, take genuine and heartfelt political stands on issues people are concerned about, and – more importantly – get up in front of a TV audience without carefully-chosen syncophants at your side. Whether it be during the primaries, or – heaven forbid – the presidential campaign, voters are going to see what the real Hillary is like in action, and, when they do, they’ll find out there ain’t a whole lot of meat on those bones (at least politically speaking).

Nevertheless, it still amazes me to see just how much trouble Hillary’s campaign is having gaining a foothold since Barack Obama tossed his hat into the 2008 presidential campaign. Whether it be her sanctimonious “I want to have a conversation with the American people” Internet announcement (barf!), the ill-advised, behind-the-scenes sniping her campaign has engaged in with Obama’s over the past several weeks, that silly performance in Selma with her phony Southern drawl, or worse yet, dragging out the old “vast right-wing conspiracy” accusations while in New Hampshire last week, Hillary the presumed Democratic party standard-bearer seems to have – almost overnight – become, Hillary the stumbling, paranoid, and petty political insider who stands only for division and “politics as usual”.

And the Obama campaign knows this, and, in small but effective ways has been pummeling her with it. The latest, and without a doubt the most cutting is this ‘non-sanctioned’ video ad spreading like wildfire across the Internet. (Hat tip: Free Republic).

The add, a takeoff on the classic Apple Computer commercial, reprises Apple’s George Orwell’s “1984” theme where an audience of zombies watching “big brother” Hillary drone on is rescued by a woman athlete wearing a tank top with the Obama campaign logo. The woman smashes the screen to smithereens, and the advertisement ends with a graphic directing viewers to the official Obama campaign website. Revolutionary? You bet:

Veteran San Francisco ad man Bob Gardner, whose work has included political campaigns for former President Gerald Ford, said the video is “very powerful” in its efforts to call for a generational change in politics.

“It puts Hillary spouting cliche nonsense to the drones — while a fresh face breaks through,” he says. “It’s old versus new.”

That theme — reflecting a generational change in the relationship between media, politics, candidates and voters — suggests that “Hillary 1984” could have the iconic power with the 21st century political generation that another classic political ad called “Daisy” represented to Baby Boomers, says Leyden. That 1964 spot for President Lyndon Johnson — featuring images of a child plucking a daisy, which morphed ominously into a nuclear mushroom cloud — battered GOP presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater because it, too, portrayed “a shattering of the whole world” in both political leadership, and media.

How much damage this ad will cause for Hillary down the line has yet to be determined. But because the ad is so striking, so well-produced, and spot-on in defining and reinforcing how a significant portion of the electorate already see her, this ad is going to sting, and sting big. And it’s only going to get worse as more and more people hear about the ad and see it over time. Like the Swift Boat Veterans ads in the 2004 campaign that hurt the Kerry campaign so, there’s just enough “truth” in this ad to help people make the connection between Hillary and the typical insider politician with no ‘there’ there – someone who will do or say anything just to get elected. Not exactly the kind of thing a campaign already perceived as being in trouble needs at this point in time, fer shure.

And it couldn’t happen to a better person.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:55 | Comments Off on Hillary’s “1984” Moment
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